IBM have been fiddling about with nanoscale images for years, from spelling out the letters IBM in Xenon atoms to the latest nanoscale world map. I once asked the late Hans Coufal, head of nanotechnology at IBM’s Almadan research centre whether it was science or marketing, and he indicted the latter. Ever since then, making nanoscale sculptures has been a sure way of getting publicity, whereas researching new methods of circuit manufacture or data storage is far less sexy.
IBM’s researchers hope that it could someday be used to craft circuit boards at smaller sizes than e-beam lithography is used to etch them today, or even build tiny nanobots or other tiny mechanical structures that could travel inside the human body or other nanoscale environments.
Even after 15 years, there a people still clinging to their belief in nanobots, just as some still believe the world is as flat as IBMs version.